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Friday, April 5, 2013

I've Been To Hell!


By Judith Ashley


Judith Ashley
Yes, I’ve been to Hell and it was Hot! Sweat poured off me (well, since I’m female I ‘glowed’ profusely). I don’t do well in the heat so my movements were slow – sluggish even. What had I been thinking?
My best friend from Ohio was with me so I wasn’t alone. Before we went, we talked it over. This would be fun, something to brag about. ‘We’ve been to Hell!” we’d say and people would laugh or their mouths would open in astonishment or if we had the desired effect - both.
You might be wondering what kind of life I led to bring me to Hell. In my child protective service days, there were many people who wished I was already there. More than once the words “Go to hell” were hurled my way.
Wouldn’t you think that someone whose job was to protect children would be told they were earning their angel wings? I don’t remember ever hearing heaven, angels and my name in the same sentence. However I do remember devil, hell and my name in the same sentence.

I wasn’t sure how big Hell would be – actually it was quite small, a few shops and a post office. Yep, you could buy post cards and send them to family and friends with the postmark ‘Hell’.
By now you may have guessed I’m not referring to the Biblical Hell but some other Hell. And if you are, you’re correct.
 
 My Ohio friend (whose name is also Judith) and I took a trip in the 1980’s to the Cayman Islands. While there we rented a car and drove to the other end of the island to the little town of Hell. It was hot and I did glow profusely and moved at a snail’s pace but within sight was the glimmering turquoise of the Caribbean Sea. We stopped at the Turtle Farm and I took at least 100 pictures of turtles. When I look at them now, I smile – what on earth was I doing? (It wasn’t a snail’s pace. I was walking at a turtle’s pace!)

 Judith and I laugh a lot when we reminisce about my turtle fanaticism. And those memories take us to the 1990’s and a trip to Ireland where Judith spent hours talking to the sheep that dotted the hillsides, wandered along the roads, and in one particularly fortuitous place were lined up outside a phone booth, but I digress.

Back to Hell. As we returned to our hotel, we stopped along the road and walked the few yards to the sea. The sand and shallow water was thick with all types, shapes, and sizes of shells. With a few dips in the ocean, my hands and pockets were full of them.
Once back at the hotel I had another Hellish experience. I was in the bathroom when I noticed an insect I’d never seen in the bath tub. I called to Judith, my calm, serene, poised, genteel (well, you get the picture) friend. She took one look in the bathtub “Oh, Hell!!!” she exclaimed as she took off her shoe and beat the poor insect to death.
I’d never seen Judith upset, never heard her swear, and never saw her kill anything (she just moved unwanted insects outside). “What on earth?” I said an astonished look on my face.
“That was a cockroach!” She said as she pulled suitcases out, opened them up and directed me to do the same. With her guidance I learned how to protect my belongings so I didn’t take any home with me!

It was time to leave. We’d lived out of zippered suitcases for two days but still took everything out one last time, shook them vigorously, before repacking. I had my stash of shell to take home. So I tucked them throughout my clothing to protect them on the trip home. 
And you might guess Customs wanted to talk to me. My first (but not my last experience with Customs – but that’s a story for another day. Everything was unpacked so they could check each shell! In the end, they confiscated some seed pods I’d picked up but they let me keep the shells.
Through this drama (and for me trauma), Judith waited on the other side. She was easily cleared. Eventually I did make it through and we did make it to our connecting flight in time. Of course in the 1980’s digital cameras or phones with cameras were not the norm so you are spared multiple pictures of the turtles. Just wish I had a picture of Hell to show you!
© 2013 Judith Ashley


 

8 comments:

Tam Linsey said...

What a fun story to tell. I love sea turtles. So - Customs kept the shells? Or let you keep them? I hope you managed to keep some treasures!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for brightening my day with your True Confession, Judith!Knowing you, I was rolling on the floor!

Like Tam, I love turtles - but I REALLY love sheep! They're my favorite farm animal. My Great Aunt Jerry had a pet sheep and a pet donkey when I was growing up. Sheepy and I had a bond.

Now I digress, LOL.

Having worked as a Child Advocate myself, I can relate to your experiences. Sometimes the protectors are the ones who need protection!

Wonderful post!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for catching the error, Tam. I did get to keep the shells! and now to go change the story so no one else is confused.

Judith Ashley said...

You and Judith would be fast-friends. We stopped numerous times so she could get out and talk to the sheep while I took pictures.

Paty Jager said...

Sounds like you had a fun time in Hell with your friend! What fun traveling memories and well told!

Judith Ashley said...

Judith and I have many fun traveling memories, Paty. We routinely added a side trip to The William Glasser Institute Conferences we attended. This was one of our more dramatic one - although my run in with border guards in Croatia during the Balkan Wars is probably the most dramatic one - or, perhaps it is when Security at Heathrow took my passport and ordered me to stay in this one spot.

Guess I've more 'true confessions' than I realized...lol

Diana Mcc. said...

I really enjoyed your adventure in Hell!! Thanks for sharing such a great story.

Judith Ashley said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Diana. I had fun going back through my memories in order to write it!